NEW YORK – Adrien Broner enraged Paulie Malignaggi for weeks with taunts, wise cracks and crude publicity stunts. Even after 12 bitterly fought rounds Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the two continued to go after each other.
Broner took Malignaggi's WBA welterweight title via a split decision, but continued to jab at Malignaggi, who was defending his belt in front of his home crowd, after the bout.
At a May news conference to kick off the fight's promotion, Broner pulled out his phone while at the dais and called a woman he said was Malignaggi's ex-girlfriend. Broner said the woman, named Jessica, was now dating him.
After he won the fight, he didn't let up. If he stuck the knife in Malignaggi's back before the fight, he twisted it afterward.
"I lifted his belt and his girl," Broner said.
That enraged Malignaggi, who raced over to the corner of the ring where Broner was being interviewed by Showtime's Jim Gray. He angrily shouted in Broner's face as Broner smirked.
Malignaggi later alleged that judge Tom Schreck, who scored it 117-111 for Broner, was in the pocket of Broner adviser Al Haymon.
"I'm not saying it was fixed, but it's always the most connected fighters who get the decisions," Malignaggi said.
That ignored the fact that Broner was quicker, stronger and more accurate. He essentially allowed Malignaggi to take the early rounds – Malignaggi won the first two on all three cards and three of the first four on two of the cards – but once Broner began to fire his right hand, he took control of the fight.
Tom Miller scored the bout 115-113 for Malignaggi, giving him six of the first seven rounds. Glenn Feldman had it 115-113 for Broner, while Schreck's score of 117-111 was exactly the same in every round as Yahoo! Sports' scorecard.
Long-time boxing reporters from the Associated Press, ESPN and Ring Magazine also had it 117-111 for Broner. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said he also scored it comfortably for Broner.
"Everyone around me thought Broner was ahead by a wide margin," Schaefer said.
Broner didn't make many fans with his crude behavior and incessant trash talk, but the guy is a legitimate talent.
He moved up two divisions, from lightweight to welterweight, but his punches were moving Malignaggi. By contrast, Broner took Malignaggi's punches with a smile and a shake of his head.
Broner looked as if he'd been a welterweight for years, and he'll automatically jump into the mix with the best 147-pounders in the world.
Schaefer said he'd like to match Broner with Marcos Maidana, who defeated Josesito Lopez on June 8 in a spectacular back-and-forth bout.
Ever the showman, Broner said he'd put it to a fan vote and would fight the leading vote-getter. The problem, though, is that fans would vote for him to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr., his friend and idol, and Broner has said repeatedly he wouldn't fight Mayweather no matter the amount of money.
"That's family," Broner said of Mayweather before the fight. "There's no amount of money that would ever get me to fight family."
But even without Mayweather, there are plenty of good options for him at 147 in what is shaping up as boxing's most enticing division.
Malignaggi was clearly amped to fight at home and was in magnificent shape. He kept up a high work rate, circling and firing punches at Broner, and wound up throwing 843, 319 more than Broner.
But Broner proved to be right during the fight when he repeatedly would say to Malignaggi, "You can't hit me."
According to CompuBox statistics, Broner landed 246 punches to 214 for Malignaggi. And Broner's punches were the far sharper, harder blows.
"He fought against one of the best boxers in this sport, and if Paulie had some more power in his punches, it might have become a difficult night for Adrien," Schaefer said. "At the same time, Adrien was in control and did what he had to do."
A Broner bout with Manny Pacquiao would be sensational, pitting two men with fast hands and good power. The ongoing feud between Golden Boy and Top Rank will prevent that fight, though.
The victory was Broner's third championship, coming after titles at super featherweight and lightweight. He didn't hesitate to boast about that after the bout.
"This was a tremendous win for me," Broner said. "I mean, who's doing it like me? Nobody."
Fortunately, most fighters are far less crass and show more class and sportsmanship than Broner. But there is no denying his talent and the fact that he's a burgeoning star.
Even with his win over Malignaggi, he hasn't faced a high level of competition, but he proved himself in an adverse situation. He went to Malignaggi's hometown and jumped two classes, but still managed to pull out an impressive victory.
He's young, and he's only going to get better.
You may not like Adrien Broner, but get used to him, because he's going to be around for a while.
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